Moeen Ali and Saeed Ajmal named in Rapids squad for Steelbacks clash

Worcestershire batsman Moeen Ali
Worcestershire batsman Moeen Ali

England’s Moeen Ali has been named in the Worcestershire Rapids squad for their NatWest T20 Blast match at Northants on Friday night.

And the visitors will also field Pakistan spinner Saeed Ajmal, who will be playing the first game of his third spell with the New Road club.

All-rounder Ali has been made available by England for the next month to fine tune his game ahead of the Ashes, but he is also free to play T20.

The 27-year-old played in four T20 Blast matches last season, scoring 101 runs at an average of 25.25 and a strike rate of 150.74 and taking four wickets at an average of 28.00 at an economy rate of seven runs per over.

In 2013 he produced a brilliant man-of-the-match performance in a T20 game at the County Ground, scoring 72 from 45 balls and then claiming five for 34 as Worcester beat the Steelbacks by 34 runs.

Saeed is starting his third spell with the club, and the first since remodelling his action during the winter to meet ICC guide-lines after a spell of being banned from international cricket.

Ajmal played in 10 T20 Blast matches last summer, taking 12 wickets at an average of 19.75 and an economy rate of 6.07 runs per over - the best of all the Worcestershire bowlers who played regularly in the competition.

The Steelbacks have lost their opening two games of this season’s competition, while Worcester have won one and lost one, but Rapids director of cricket Steve Rhodes isn’t taking any notice of those statistics.

“In T20 cricket any side can beat each other on the day and it evens itself out, the shorter the game,” said Rhodes.

“It is only two years ago that Northants were champions in this competition. I went to finals day that year and watched them that day and they played magnificently well.

“They’ve still got quite a lot of those match-winners in that side and they are always going to be tough opposition.

“We respect them, we won’t fear them, but we’ll respect them because they’ve got some good cricketers and hopefully they will take a look at our side and think similarly.”

Worcestershire (from): Daryl Mitchell, Moeen Ali, Richard Oliver, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Colin Munro, Ross Whiteley, Ben Cox, Brett D’Oliveira, Ed Barnard, Joe Leach, Saeed Ajmal, Jack Shantry, Alexei Kervezee

Steelbacks (from): Alex Wakely, Rory Kleinveldt, Steven Crook, Josh Cobb, Richard Levi, Adam Rossington, Mohamed Azharullah, David Willey, Rob Keogh, Ollie Stone, Graeme White, Shahid Afridi.